Snacks / Appetizers

Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

 

Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

Here we have the perfect breakfast for dog owners (and everybody else who loves a great breakfast and can wait awhile before breakfast is ready,) 🙂
Once the prep has been done (you can do this the previous evening), just put the wrap into the oven (hot or cold), turn to 375F and walk your dog.
Make sure you are back before the hour is over and you will be rewarded with a perfect breakfast). Generally, the egg inside will take about 35 minutes for a “sunny side up” texture, while additional time spent in the heat will obviously take the egg to the next level of doneness. This doneness will depend on various factors, such as the thickness of the wrap, the thickness of the ham and tomato, the amount of cheese and /or other fillings, and so forth.
When I made this dish the first time a few years back, I took it out of the oven WAY too early, not realizing how much time the egg actually takes to cook inside all these layers. However, if you like this dish, take some notes about the time and temperature you use in order to get it right on future occasions.
Also, and this is even more important, chose a wrap which suits this preparation. If you select the wrong one, the shell will become dry and tough after it’s considerable time in the oven. But if you find the right one (see the pic below for an example), the wrap becomes wonderfully flaky, almost like a puff pastry, as is clearly visible in the pics of the cut wrap 🙂 . The reason why I use two wraps per pocket is that the (RIGHT) wraps add a great flakiness one would not get with a single layer (there is a lot of moisture inside).
I also like to emphasize the importance of the grated parmesan cheese between the moist layers to help keep a proper texture, (you don’t want a soggy mess !) and the importance of brushing the wrap generously with whole butter before baking, both for taste and texture.
As for the sauce, I love to serve this with sweet Thai chili sauce or a honey/herb yogurt. Again – serve it with whatever makes YOU happy ! 🙂
Of course, as with most of the food I publish on my blog,  I recommend using this dish as an inspiration for your very own variations of a baked wrap. I have prepared them with seafood, ground meat, chicken, veggies, with or without cheese, with or without eggs, etc. ( one of my favorites is tomato, onion, sauteed spinach, and brie). Also, although I have this usually for breakfast, it makes a great snack or meal any time during the day or evening.

Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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This is one of these dishes which, at least in my humble opinion, actually benefits from the usage of smaller shrimp, compared to the larger shrimp we usually prefer for a great dish. While you can make a perfectly wonderful fried rice with large shrimp, the smaller ones can be used in abundance for the same price as a few large ones will cost. The mouth-feel is just better when the ratio of shrimp to rice is 50/50 🙂
In the past, when the only shrimp available to me were large ones, I actually cut them into smaller pieces to get that specific mouth-feel. (For a more impressive presentation, you can always put a few uncut  biggies on the top) 🙂
I enjoyed today’s fried rice as my breakfast, although it is an appropriate meal for any time of the day. I love rice for breakfast, usually in the form of congee with whatever is available, a tasty rice bowl (with whatever is available) or, as today, fried rice (with whatever is available) 🙂
“Whatever is available” can range from meats, seafood, fresh or pickled vegetables, eggs of any type, or – you guessed it – whatever else is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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to serve, sprinkle with more scallion, add fried shallots and pickled mild chillies

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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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Preparation :
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Best ! Ribs ! Ever !

Best ! Ribs ! Ever !

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Here is a rib recipe that will take your Memorial Day BBQ (or any other BBQ day) to the highest level 🙂
While the marinade consists of a whole bunch of ingredients, there is nothing exotic or unusual about them and most of us who like to cook have these sauces/seasonings already in their cupboard. If not, just buy small amounts so you have no waste.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
If you like to cook the ribs outside on the grill, follow the same procedure as outlined below, but once they are tender from cooking them sealed in the pan on the grill, remove them from the braising pan and cook them on both sides on a very low-heat grill for another 30 minutes or so, until the ribs have nicely caramelized but are not burned 🙂
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Best ! Ribs ! Ever !

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Best ! Ribs ! Ever !

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Preparation :
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Spinach Wrap With Smoked Spicy Sausage, Coleslaw And Black Beans

Before  I started this post today, I googled “Wrap”, to see some comparison to what I had prepared for dinner.
To tell you the truth, almost all of them, especially the ones from food chains, look absolutely gorgeous – well balanced with equal amounts of protein, lettuce and other “Stuff” 🙂
The problem???
Almost all these wraps are very different from the real thing you can purchase in restaurants and deli’s. While there are a few exceptions, most commercial places serve you these monster wraps, huge and beautiful to look at. But upon closer inspection, one finds mostly shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, sprinkled sparsely with the other ingredients listed on the menu. Even when there seems to be a lot of the goodies, the maker of the wrap usually places most of the goodies in the very center of the wrap, so when it is cut for presentation, it shows an abundance of it at the displayed center cut, while the rest of the roll contains mostly the cheap shredded lettuce. This would not be such a problem if the prices would not be so outrageous for what is actually being served (mostly lettuce) 😦
Good restaurants are usually an altogether different animal, although many serve you the same “lettuce wrap with a bit of other stuff”.
By now you will know what’s the solution – yep, make your own and pack it with the good stuff ! 🙂
Here we go:
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Spinach Wrap With Smoked Spicy Sausage, Coleslaw And Black Beans

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Spinach Wrap With Smoked Spicy Sausage, Coleslaw And Black Beans

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Spinach Wrap With Smoked Spicy Sausage, Coleslaw And Black Beans

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Last night on my way home I stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant where I used to eat pho. I stopped eating there because of the tiny portions (see my post about it by clicking this link:  ….Pho….
Knowing that I would be disappointed by the skimpy pho, I placed my hope into an order of summer rolls…….
Well, the same crappy principle as with the pho (a ton of stock, a tiny amount of anything else); only this time, there was a ton of wrapper (2 per roll !) and just a tiny bit of filling. I could have kicked myself for not following my own previous advise to avoid this place.
So, what’s an old cook to do? Well of course, make my own version of rice paper rolls 🙂
Mind you, these are NOT Vietnamese summer rolls! And, because of their plumpness, rather than eating them by hand, I suggest you use a fork in order to have a less messy encounter with these babies. 🙂
However, these rolls consist of the exact amount and ratio of ingredients I craved when I ordered the rolls in the restaurant and was so badly disappointed:
A small amount of wrapper, LOT’S of noodles and shrimp, and NOT drowned in fish sauce and basil. Ahhhh, the good life ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
If you prefer the more traditional skinny shape, just arrange the filling accordingly.
P.P.S.
I am still hoping to find a decent Vietnamese restaurant around here 🙂
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Hans’ Peanut Sauce

This recipe may not be the most authentic, but it’s really, really good.
Serve it as a dipping sauce, over hot or cold noodles or as a salad dressing.

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons chili paste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk again before serving.
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Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce


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While
 my stomach tells me that the larger the shrimp, the more I love the dish, my wallet sometimes pulls back the reins and tells me to take it easy 😦
So last week when I went to the store to buy shrimp for this dish, these small salad shrimp for $7.75 a pound seemed more suitable than the large ones for $28.00 a pound. (My wallet insisted). I had planned to chop the shrimp, then add peppers, seasoning and an egg white and prepare shrimp cakes in the traditional way. However, these here babies with the tiny cooked shrimp turned out to be just as good, perhaps even better. The texture is of course very different from patties made from chopped raw shrimp, but as I said, not inferior, and maybe even better.
Hurray for the  cheaper  solution. (Ooops, of course I mean the more economical solution ) 😦
And there you have it – more expensive is not always better!  (However, most of the time, it really is) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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A few  years after I was born, the German “Wirtschaftswunder” (Economic Miracle) was in full swing (I wonder if my existence helped?), and Germany was in need of a new, different kind of army – an army of workers, to fill all the open labor-positions. It was the time (1955) when Germany invited millions of “Gastarbeiter” (Guest Workers) to come and make their luck and life in Germany. Mostly poor, working class people from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and eventually, in 1968, Yugoslavia, took a chance and started a new life in this new promised land, first alone, working very hard, saving money, learning the language and customs and then, usually a couple of years later, having their family join them and slowly but surely integrating themselves and their families, and most of them eventually becoming Germans. (Passport, language, customs, and all) 🙂
I don’t want to go into the political, economic and social results of this enormous “Völkerwanderung” (Human Migration), but rather talk about the effect it had on the culinary landscape.
Up until then, there were basically three culinary styles in Germany –
“Deutsche Hausmanskost”, which translates into plain home cooking
“Deutsche Koch Kunst”, or German Culinary Arts, meals that are as pleasing to the eye as to the palate,  primarily available in upper-class restaurants, hotels, and delicatessens.
“Traditional French Cuisine”, also mainly available in upper-class restaurants, hotels, and delicatessens.
Of course, this all changed rapidly with the influx of millions of people cooking the traditional food of their countries of origin, and within a few short years one could easily find a Turkish doner shop, Italian pizzeria, Greek taverna, Spanish tapa restaurant, Portuguese cervejaria or Yugoslavian restaurant serving food from all over Europe, first in the big cities, but eventually even in the smallest of villages.
(Incidentally, nowadays you are more likely to find an ethnic restaurant than a typical “German Gasthaus” (German Tavern) in most places 😦
Securely wedged in my memory are the Cevapcici of that time. Up ’til then, we did not know “Burgers”. We had either buletten or meatloaf, typically served hot with mashed potatoes or pasta and mushroom sauce, or served cold with bread and mustard.
So when Cevapcici came along, they were pretty special and exotic to our palette and view.
Spiced with plenty of garlic, oregano and cumin among other seasonings, they tasted and looked very different to anything made with ground lamb (or any other ground meat) we’d seen up to then.
They were usually served with rice and salad or with some type of flatbread and salad, often accompanied by a yogurt sauce and raw onion rings.
Again, at the time, this was pretty new and exotic for most of us 🙂
So when I got this ground lamb yesterday, I was looking forward to preparing and eating, for the first time in many years, this wonderful dish.
I am happy I did because I enjoyed every morsel of it (and so did Bella) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !   (And full of memories) 🙂
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Pls note:
Replace the lamb with beef, or pork or a mixture of both if you prefer.
Cevapcici can be grilled, sauteed, baked (roast) or fried. However, do NOT overcook them or you are left with a dry stick of coal-like substance 😦
See the pic of the close-up of the meat. Well done but VERY juicy and tender 🙂
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Click here for  Potato Salad Recipe   (Add sliced, seeded cucumbers if desired)
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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

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I do realize that taco bowls are sooo 80’s, but I feel they still look great today, and this piece of once “in” popular food culture deserves a place within the classics we should re-visit once in a while so as not to forget them 🙂
In order to be a bit more colorful, instead of the usual flour tortilla, I have used a brightly colored spinach wrap here. Wraps come in all kinds of colors, so this opens up the visual spectrum to be a bit more varied.
As far as the filling is concerned, today I felt like bean salad, avocado, greens, and shrimp, but of course, the sky is the limit, as long as it is not liquid and you serve it right after preparation in order to avoid the shells to become soft.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

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ready to go……………serves 2

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Preparation :
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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie


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As  I have mentioned before, I love to prepare my own pizza dough, pie dough, tortillas, fresh pasta, and a myriad of other things which are usually better (although not always) when home made.
On the other hand, sometimes this is just not very practical or sensible, for example at times when there is simply no time or space to do so.
Also, I have cooked just about anything one can cook, mostly? with good results, so I am not embarrassed to sometimes use  good- quality  convenience products, such as the crust I used for this pie. I actually bought it without a plan, just because it looked so delicious and I wanted to find out if it tastes as good and has the great texture it promised when I looked at it on the shelf in my neighborhood grocery store. Well – it did, even much better than I had expected 🙂
I absolutely love it and have used it already twice since I made this pie, once for an onion pie and once as a base for sandwiches.
It is supposed to be used for pizza, but for that, I will stick with my homemade dough for now.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Preparation :
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Bella’s Fault ! (“Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold”)

Greek Lamb Sandwich

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So  today, at around noon, I seasoned and seared this wonderful boneless leg of lamb I bought earlier, then put it in the oven to roast it slowly until rare, let it rest a bit, then serve with a nice salad for a great lunch.
Well, THAT did not happen ! 😦
As soon as I’d put the meat in the oven, Bella insisted that we go for a walk. I thought to myself ok, just around the corner, then back to take care of lunch.
But, as soon as we started our walk, she pulled me towards the park by the lake and I forgot all about the lamb in the oven. Needless to say, when we got back 1.5 hours later, the meat was well done. After kicking myself (mentally), I cut the leg into smaller, flat pieces, wrapped them in alu-foil and put it back into the oven at 375F for another 2,5 hours, at which point the meat was very tender and almost falling apart. I let it cool off a bit, then pulled it into fine shreds with two forks, seasoned it with olive oil, kosher salt, cumin, cayenne, oregano and voilà – the perfect topping for a Greek sandwich.
When I was an apprentice, my chef, Herr Mueller, used to say about cooking:
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” Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold. “
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And there you have it ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Preparation :
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